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Old 07-21-2011, 08:16 AM   #1
jupstin
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Posts: 159
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Cambria, California
Device: Kindle 2
My iRiver Story HD Impressions - any questions?

I realize that there's already a post like this, but I figured another voice couldn't hurt. I've been trying out the Nook STR, but I decided that it's not quite right for me. I was prepared to buy a K3 yesterday, but I decided to give the iRiver Story HD a chance instead.

So...what's it like?

Well, many of the reports you've heard are true. Some are exaggerated.

My main complaint is that it feels like the firmware is still in beta. Considering the wealth of buttons, the iRirver HD can't really do all that much. There are next to no formatting options - apart from 8 font sizes, nothing can be tweaked.

The dictionary functionality can be described in two words: it exists

I can open the dictionary from within a book and type a word search, but there's no way to use the arrow keys or 4-way controller to actually select a word from the page. That was particularly irritating last night when I was trying to look up a word that was on the bottom of the page. When I opened the dictionary, the UI covered up the word I wanted to define. It was, of course, an unfamiliar word, so I didn't know how to spell it.

(The word, by the way, was "heberphrenic," and it's not in the iRiver's dictionary)

There doesn't seem to be a way to search within a book (possibly a deal breaker for me.)

I don't want to list every little irritation, but suffice it to say that it's not a ready for prime time reader.

The most common criticism I read is about the 2-tone design. I was prepared to hate it, but in person it's not bad. In fact, and I may be alone here, I like the way it looks. The buttons look much better in person than in any of the pictures I've seen. My initial impression when I saw the first images was that they were bronze. They are actually clear, and the brown color underneath matches the brown color on the back of the reader. The keys look different from different angles, and at no time did I feel like they were bronze.

The "clickiness" of the controls has also been exaggerated. It's not as quiet as a touch-screen reader (of course,) but it doesn't seem any louder than my K2.

What I like the most is the way it feels in my hand. It's thin, and light, and I love the texture: it's smooth, but not slippery.

The screen really is quite nice. The extra resolution makes a noticeable difference. Text looks smoother on this screen than on any other reader I've seen. It has a pixel density of about 213 PPI vs. the standard 6 inch e-reader density of 166 PPI. Maybe that makes a difference to you, and maybe it doesn't. I've always noticed a slight bit of jagginess in any e-reader I've tried, and I don't have that experience with the iRiver.

I'm going to have to compare it side by side with a Pearl-equipped reader before I can make any definitive statement about contrast, but my initial thought is that it's a bit less contrasty.

That's all for now. I'm tempted to hold onto this for a while. Target has a 90 day return policy, and I have a (possibly naive) faith that firmware updates will smooth out most of the wrinkles. If anyone has any questions or wants me to try anything, please let me know.
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